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2 min read

Look back at a slip and fall case against safeway

Slip and Fall Lawyer | Personal Injury Lawyers | Safeway Stores

A Slip and fall in Safeway

Jacqueline M. Buckmiller took legal action against Safeway Stores, Inc. following a slip and fall incident at one of their stores. The incident occurred in September 1977, and Buckmiller, determined to seek justice, immediately filed a lawsuit. However, due to various circumstances, the trial was repeatedly postponed, causing frustration and delay for Buckmiller.

After four years of waiting, Buckmiller received a notice from the trial court, stating that the case would be dismissed unless she provided a valid reason for the delay. Recognizing the urgency, Buckmiller's attorney swiftly submitted a letter from an orthopedic surgeon, attesting to the seriousness of her injuries and the need for legal action. This letter allowed the case to proceed, giving Buckmiller a glimmer of hope.

a warning from the court

However, another year passed, and the trial court once again warned that the case would be dismissed unless sufficient cause was shown. Unfortunately, Buckmiller's attorney failed to respond, leading to the dismissal of the case in December 1982. The dismissal was a devastating blow for Buckmiller, who believed she had a strong claim against Safeway.

Refusing to accept defeat, Buckmiller decided to fight back. She filed a motion to overturn the dismissal, claiming gross negligence on the part of her former attorney. Buckmiller firmly believed that her attorney's negligence had cost her the opportunity to seek justice. However, to her dismay, the trial court denied her motion, citing potential harm to Safeway if the case was reopened.

Undeterred, Buckmiller appealed the trial court's decision. She sought justice from the court of appeals, hoping for a different outcome. Unfortunately, the court of appeals upheld the trial court's judgment, leaving Buckmiller feeling defeated once again.

Colorado supreme court wades in

However, Buckmiller's determination and resilience did not go unnoticed. The supreme court of Colorado reviewed her case and recognized the errors made by the lower courts. In their ruling, the supreme court emphasized the importance of considering the three criteria outlined in Craig v. Rider when evaluating Buckmiller's motion: excusable neglect, meritorious claim, and equitable considerations. They highlighted the failure of the trial court and court of appeals to properly apply these criteria when making their decisions.

Specifically, the supreme court noted that the trial court had only partially addressed the last of the Craig criteria and had neglected to consider crucial factors such as the timing of Buckmiller's motion, any reliance Safeway may have placed on the dismissal judgment, and the potential damage to Safeway's defense. The supreme court recognized the importance of a fair and thorough evaluation of these criteria and believed that Buckmiller had been denied this opportunity.

Consequently, the supreme court ordered the case to be returned to the trial court for further proceedings, ensuring that the Craig criteria were appropriately considered. This ruling was a significant victory for Buckmiller, as it provided her with a renewed chance to present her case and seek the justice she had been fighting for.

However, not everyone agreed with the supreme court's decision. Justice Erickson dissented, arguing that the trial court had not abused its discretion in denying Buckmiller's motion. Despite this dissenting opinion, Buckmiller remained hopeful that justice would prevail and that she would finally have her day in court.

The journey to seek justice had been long and arduous for Jacqueline M. Buckmiller. From the initial slip and fall incident to the dismissal of her case, she had faced numerous challenges and setbacks. However, with the supreme court's ruling in her favor, Buckmiller's determination and resilience had finally paid off. Now, she eagerly awaited the opportunity to present her case once again, hopeful that this time justice would be served.